British butterflies

Neil Jones Neil at
Sat Aug 9 12:55:14 EDT 1997

In message <01BCA4CF.900EB600 at> D.P.Howson at BRADFORD.AC.UK writes:
> This year and last year I have taken a vacation in July/August on the
> Gower peninsula in South Wales.This year in contrast to last there was a
> noticable absence of immigrant butterflies,viz no Clouded > Yellow(croceus),
> no Painted Lady(cardui), and few Red Admiral(atalanta).

The Gower peninsula is close to me and I co-ordinate Butterfly Conservation's
recording in South Wales. I was out there filling in an empty map
square yesterday evening. There are a few Red Admirals around now but I have
yet to see a Painted Lady. Clouded Yellows normally only turn up in numbers here
every six or seven years. Although reports reach me most seasons.

> Only Large White(brassicae), which were present in some numbers, might
> have been immigrants.
> Generally, how is the immigrant butterfly scene in UK? Can we look
> forward to  much in September?
> Turning to the residents,it was nice to see that Small Blue(minimus)
> seems to be holding its own on Gower, and that Marbled White(galathea)
> and Silver-washed Fritillary(paphia) are well represented.

I can guess where you've been. The Marbled White is not a common
butterfly in this part of the world at all. The known Gower sites
are in two places in and around the National Nature Reserves at
Whitford Point and Oxwich. I have only seen one Silver Washed Fritillary
on Gower this year and, curiously, looking back at my records in Levana
( Levana is a software package)
no Small blues. This may be due to the fact that my butterflying has been
concentrated on the areas which are not well recorded. These tend to
be the poorer places.

> But my books
> suggest that there should be colonies of Silver-studded Blue(argus) on
> the peninsula and these I have never located.Have they died out?

Ah! This must be one of my most frequently asked questions.
I am  quite prepared to believe that there were Silver-studded Blues
on the Gower in years gone by but the information in the books may well
be inaccurate or misleading.

The  current atlas records, which are based on information collected
from the early seventies until around the mid eighties, show four
10 kilometer square dots. I believe that 2 of these records are due to
single individuals being seen on the cliffs on either side of 
Oxwich. No colony was ever located and I tend to view these records
with scepticism. Another, I believe, is a single individual captured and 
taken alive in a matchbox to an expert. The poor creature had by this
stage lost most of its scales and was supposedly identified from the
pattern of veins on the wings. (Can someone tell me if this is possible?)

The fourth spot may actually refer to an old site the other side of the 
Loughor estuary from the Gower Peninsula which was destroyed by a council
landscaping scheme.

The old style system where records were sent to one central place had
a few problems. We now collate records on a more local basis. This helps
to weed out errors and problematic people who send in inaccurate records.
We have had one person here claim to have seen Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis
polychloros), Large Copper (Lycaena dispar) and Heath Fritillary ( Mellitea
athalia). The first two are extinct here. The later is not recorded in Wales
and was reported in September when the English populations fly in June!

This part of the world is very under recorded. If would be grateful if you
could send on details of what you saw, how many, when  and where.
Levana requires an OS map grid ref 6 figure if possible.

> Dave Howson 

Neil Jones- Neil at "The beauty and genius of a work of art
may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a
vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last
individual of a race of living things breathes no more another heaven and
another earth must pass before such a one can be again." William Beebe

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